The high-class DTM starting field with several international champions will be further increased in 2002 when ex-F1 drivers' Jean Alesi and Karl Wendlinger join the fold.

Abt Sportsline has signed Austrian former F1-driver Karl Wendlinger. "Karl is a driver with a huge international experience and a lot of speed", said team principal Hans-J?rgen Abt. "Furthermore, he fits perfectly into our team with his amiable and open personality."

Alongside Wendlinger, Christian Abt, double DTM-winner Laurent Aiello and Martin Tomczyk will be racing with the Abt-Audi TT-R, which was in the race for the runner-up spot until the final round of the season. The fifth car is supposed to be driven by Swede Mattias Ekstr?m.

Mercedes-Benz have also taken in an ex-F1 driver: namely Jean Alesi. The Frenchman most recently drove for Jordan-Honda in the Formula 1 World Championship. Next to Alesi, Uwe Alzen, Peter Dumbreck, Marcel F?ssler, Thomas J?ger and Bernd Schneider have also all been confirmed as drivers. This year's championship-winning manufacturer will be entering at least nine Mercedes-Benz CLK-DTM's, including four new cars.

Opel will be racing with six newly developed Opel Astra V8 Coup?s in 2002. Four drivers have already signed: the proven Opel-drivers Michael Bartels, Alain Menu from Switzerland, Manuel Reuter and Joachim Winkelhock. Furthermore, negotiations between Opel and 23-year old Timo Scheider are said to be in an 'advanced stage'.